«If you use a device like Roku or Amazon Fire TV, there are several companies that can build a very complete picture of what you are seeing … there is very little monitoring or notion of their practices, including what data is being sold, ”says Arvind Narayanan, a professor at Princeton. The Verge explains that this type of device is available at relatively low prices precisely because of the subsidization achieved by the companies that have access to this data. Technically, users are agreeing to give up the data when they do the initial setup, but many don't even realize it.
To reach these conclusions, Princeton researchers built a bot that installed thousands of channels on their Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and then replicated human behavior searching and viewing content. Each time an ad was shown, the bot would record what information was being collected. Some ads even send decrypted information about users' email addresses, titles of content to watch, while others share device type, city and state, as well as device serial number, Wi-Fi network, and ID. Ad The study found that 69% of Roku channels and 89% of Amazon channels have such "data collector" ads. Google DoubleClick was found on 97% of Roku channels.
Both platforms allow you to disable targeted advertising, but doing so only prevents sharing of the ad ID, not any other unique data. Narayanan even thinks that having better privacy controls is just a quick fix, as the whole model of targeted advertising on TV is incompatible with users' privacy. "To maximize revenue, platforms will use data mining and algorithmic personalization to keep people glued to the screen as long as possible."